Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by Bill Clinton (who also created don’t ask don’t tell) was seen as a huge victory for supporters of Gay Marriage. Heck even Drudge had a banner headline declaring it Gay Day at the court (because of the DOMA Ruling and the non-ruling regarding the California Proposition eight case (because the side appealing the ruling had no standing).
In reality neither ruling was a victory for Gay Marriage and both were a victory for the constitution.
The DOMA case was about a Lesbian Couple who was married in Canada where it is legal and moved to NY where Gay Marriage is now legal. One of the women died and the IRS wanted to charge inheritance taxes to transfer the estate to her partner. However according to the law (something the IRS follows once in a while) there is no estate tax when the estate goes from one spouse to the other.
The Supreme Court Ruling basically said that marriage is regulated by the states not the federal government. So if a couple is married in a state that recognizes gay marriage, the federal government has to recognize it also. They didn’t stop the federal government from not recognizing gay marriage in states where it is not a recognized union.
So for example if a gay couple gets married in NY where it is legal and moves to Texas where gay marriage is not legal, the federal government HAS to recognize the union, but Texas doesn’t. This is a major, major victory for states rights. It’s says the federal government cannot encroach on state responsibility.
While not in the the released document, I believe the Prop 8 decision was punted for a similar reason, that the Supreme Court did not want to get involved in what is basically a local decision.
Yesterday the Supreme Court made a decision that all strict constitutionalists should applaud. Social Conservatives must realize they cannot have it both ways. You can’t use the constitution only when it is convenient. In this case the federal government cannot override state law, because constitutionally marriage is in the purview of the state government.
For a different conservative perspective, I strongly urge you to read this USA Today Op-Ed written by my friend Bruce Carroll, The Gay Patriot. Click here and give it a read.